For the past three years, I have been thoroughly immersed in the liberty movement. As the president and founder of our club at Berkeley and a Campus Coordinator for Students For Liberty, I have had the opportunity to interact with lots of libertarian students, professionals, and celebrities. By no means do I consider myself an expert on the movement. As a youngling, I still have a lot to learn about libertarian theory and practice. However, I feel that in my fledgling affair with Lady Liberty, I have acquired an adequate sense of the movement’s strengths and weaknesses. The latter is the focus of this blog post.
Unfortunately, there are certain attitudes that many libertarians embrace that I find to be quite unproductive in promoting freedom. Indeed, a few of my fellow my club members and I have been casually discussing these attitudes over the past few weeks and have crafted a new ethos that we call “postlibertarianism.” Etymologically inspired by the philosophical school of postmodernism, postlibertarianism is similarly a reformative movement to question the common strategies that libertarians take in argument and action. To be clear, though, postlibertarianism is by no means an endorsement of its sister with a similar name. After all, anyone who’s read a work of Jacques Derrida’s will tell you that postmodernism has its downfalls!
So, what exactly is this strange new creature called “postlibertarianism?” I will elaborate on this ameliorative attitude in a list of characteristics that define it:
- Postlibertarianism is embracive, not divisive. Libertarians are overly anxious to split themselves up. I am blown away at how many times I have been asked whether I’m a minarchist or anarchist, whether I prefer Koch or Mises, and what economic school of though I subscribe to. This is quite a tragic situation considering how small the movement is. A postlibertarian recognizes the futility of these divisions and seeks to build bridges rather than tear them down. In fact, a postlibertarian does not even call himself a postlibertarian because that would simply be continuing the cycle of division!
- Postlibertarianism is humble, not dogmatic. Libertarians are incessantly extreme in argumentation. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Indeed, our unbudging positions are a sign of our logical consistency. However, this can appear as overly radical to newcomers. A potential convert, for example, can easily get turned off to the movement if some zealot chastises him for not believing in private roads or laws. A postlibertarian recognizes this danger of dogmatic shock and instead is humble in argumentation to slowly lead a hopeful convert down liberty lane.
- Postlibertarianism views government more as inefficient than evil. Libertarians love to hate on the government, and well deservedly. Being coercive by nature, the government is pretty darn evil. However, we must remember that most people do not subscribe to this radical worldview. To the contrary, most have some positive attitudes towards the government, “After all, they build roads and enforce justice!” Thus, dropping the e-word in discussions with non-libertarians can easily lose their attention. A postlibertarian recognizes this disconnect between our perspective of government and others’ and instead argues on efficiency rather than ethics. After all, regardless of what one’s moral view of the government may be, nobody disagrees that the Postal Service is inefficient! A poslibertarian capitalizes on this shared viewpoint and seeks to slowly and rationally persuade his opponent to the Good Side.